I attended the second half of the Grass Roots Summit to Stop Sabal Trail (Proposed Fracking Pipeline through Florida) on August 6, 2016 9am-5pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, FL organized by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. Their concern is that “the Sabal Trail has yet to address the potential for the high pressure pipeline to burst in or under the Floridian Aquifer – the main water supply for the entire state of Florida. Our waters, wetlands and communities are too important to risk for this dangerous pipeline.”
There were approximately 50 other citizens like myself with a handful of local non-profits trying to learn how to help protect our Florida water supply by coming together to learn, share, and build power to stop the Sabal Trail fracked-gas pipeline.
This workshop was hosted by other States (Virginia, West Virginia, and Louisiana) to bring their grass roots program “Hands Across Our Land” to the state of Florida in order to gather and bring national attention to the plight landowners and communities face at the hands of bullying multi-billion dollar corporations in their quest to build new fossil fuel infrastructures. They believe that:
“the rights of property ownership are fundamental to our democracy; that eminent domain should never be used for corporate gain and/or economic development” and that the “health, safety and welfare of their families, communities and environment are paramount.”
The pertinent negative effects for Valhalla Spa’s homestead would include:
- Loss of property rights
- Environmental damage of building the pipeline
- Pollution and salt water intrusion of the Floridian Aquifer
- Loss of non-renewable energy sources to foreign countries instead of reserving for emergency use
Training sessions I attended were led by the following Agencies:
- Gulf Restoration Network – provided mentoring on how to mount a grass roots media campaign.
- Sierra Club – Suwannee-St. Johns Group – shared success and failures in their “boots on the ground” land surveying and monitoring efforts to uphold accountability with permitting and surveying practices between Sabal and the Army Corps of Engineers.
- Greenbrier River Watershed Association – landowner rights 101, training on legal preparation, how to attend public meetings, and how to issue press releases and contact elected officials.
Local Agencies with an interest in protecting Florida’s water supply also came together to meet and greet, learn about the potential devastation and environmental impact the pipeline would have for Florida residents and eco-tourism, and to start figuring out how to organize Florida’s own grass roots movement to stop the proposed Sabal pipeline through Central Florida’s critical “liquid heart of Florida” (560,000 acre Green Swamp recharge area) before it is too late.
I was grateful for the service work and guidance provided from other States and for their outreach to Florida to help prepare for what is fighting to come across their state line to ours.
As a result of the grass roots organization training:
- I joined the local Sierra Club (Suwannee – St. Johns) meet-up groupand plan on getting involved with the non-profit Our Santa Fe River, Inc. to help and to learn how to steward and protect the Farm’s water supply used to grow organic food for the community.
- I plan to continue going to local events to meet conservation leaders, learn and report on current events affecting my farm/friends/family, and voicing my environmental and conservation concerns to elected government officials.
- I met and got to talk shop with another Homegrown by Heroes veteran farmer that was negatively impacted by the Sabal fracking pipeline. They own Four Corners Farm in Virginia where they also practice sustainable, chemical-free agriculture, and grow nutrient-dense food for their local area in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- I met and listened to a Miccosukee Seminole Indian spiritual leader from the Everglades, Billy C. Billie, pray and plead for my generation to respect and conserve the land and natural resources of this great State.
- 9:15-10am- Sabal Trail 101 with Chris Mericle and Maxine Connor
- 10-11:15am- Liquefied Natural Gas Exports 101 with Donny from We Are Cove Point (room 1) Pipelines & the Anti-Fracking Connection & 101 with Elise Keaton from the West Virginia Mountain Party (room 2)
- 11:15am- 12:30pm- Environmental & Climate Justice 101 with Michelle Suarez from Organize Florida
- 12:30-1:15pm- Lunch Break & Networking
- 1:15 – 1:45- Morning Report-Back
- 1:45 – 2pm- Afternoon Announcements & Break
- 2 – 3:15pm- Landowner Rights 101(room 1) with Elise Keaton of the West Virginia Mountain Party Natural Gas Storage Facilities & Rail Projects with CeCe Scofield with Coalition for Responsible Citing of LNG Facilities (room 2)
- 3:15 – 4pm- Campaign Strategy Training (room 1) with Kim Ross from ReThink Energy Florida Media Strategy 101 with Raleigh Hoke from Gulf Restoration Network (room 2)
- 4 – 5pm- Action Planning! Let’s work together to plan next steps.
Thank you for putting effort, time and consideration into social leadership.